Released for publication: The family of Chabad emissary Rabbi Yaakov Mendelzohn received a death threat from an unidentified assailant in their mail box last Wednesday, November 2.
The carefully lettered page was “decorated” with heavy dark Hebrew words that appeared to be dripping with blood.
“BEWARE OF YOUR LIVES!” the letter proclaimed. “If Yaakov does not step down from the edifice upon which he has risen, Chen 19, WE WILL TAKE HIM DOWN.
“The S.O.S. Society”
The letter also bore an elegantly-drawn likeness of a Chassidic man, and at the bottom, a large black revolver. The letters “S.O.S.” were written three times across the top of the page as well. Chen 19 is the address of the city's Ashkenazi Central Synagogue, where the rabbi serves as spiritual leader.
Rabbi Mendelzohn's wife Chanie immediately notified Arad police. Her husband, who was in New York at the time attending the Chabad Lubavitch International Conference of Shluchim, spoke with police upon his return to Israel this week.
The Martinez family, headed by 70-year-old Emanuel and his 59-year-old wife Ruth, worked hard, even though it was tough to manage, since they really had no legal status in the State of Israel. Having come here from a farm in Kentucky on a tourist visa that had eventually expired, they remained nevertheless, convinced they were "home."
Life in Israel isn't easy for those who want to become a member of the tribe; if you are not halachically Jewish (according to the laws of the Torah) you must convince the authorities to allow you to convert, even if your father was Jewish. If neither parent is Jewish, your chances are even worse -- Israeli officials generally want to know why anyone would want to be Jewish, and make it as difficult as possible for someone to do so.
Part of that is S.O.P. -- the Torah makes it clear that Judaism does not seek converts -- but Israel takes that attitude to an art form. And unless you already qualify to become a citizen of the state through the Law of Return -- that is, unless you are already one-quarter Jewish, somehow, with at least one Jewish grandparent -- frankly, Scarlet, you are usually out of luck. Gentiles who want to convert and join the Jewish people are usually politely advised to do that elsewhere in the world.
Emanuel had a letter from his mother, telling him about the candles she remembered her own mother lighting on Friday nights, and the mezuzah she saw adorning the doorposts of her house, and those on the homes in her village in Mexico. But the Rabbinate said it wasn't strong enough evidence to prove Jewish ancestry, and the Martinez family failed the make the grade for a chance at a conversion program in Israel -- thus condemning them to having to live life below the radar.
The family was bewildered by the decision.
The Martinez kids had grown up with their parents reading the Bible to them every day, and their observance of kashruth came from the text: 34-year-old Joshua remembered slaughtering animals on the farm "by ourselves, according to the kosher laws because we couldn't get kosher meat in town."
The family donated money each year to Jewish causes, including those that supported the Holy Land, and when they received a settlement on a legal case they sold their furniture and boarded a plane for Israel, never dreaming they would ever have to look back.
That was five years ago.
Five days ago, Ruth came home from a walk in the park to discover her beloved husband and two sons were missing, and both daughters were gone. The elderly patriarch of the family was thrown into Ramle jail by Israel's immigration police, together with his sons Yirmiyahu and Joshua, to await deportation.
No one was allowed to see a lawyer. Joshua and Emanuel never saw a judge. Yirmiyahu finally was brought to a court room, only to be told he would be deported as well. The daughters, who had spotted the police on their way home from the store, went into hiding. They later reappeared and warned their mother that she would have to join them.
Tonight, the immigration police came knocking on the door, looking for Ruth and her daughters. The older woman had already made arrangements to give away the family dog, Charlie, her daughters' kitten, and the two cockatiels she had raised. The beautiful etchings made by her husband on Jerusalem stone would have to be abandoned, she told us; they were too heavy to take along where she was going.
"We're leaving tonight," she whispered in a faint voice when we came to say goodbye in her darkened apartment in the "patio" section of Arad. "We'll hide until we can get to the American Embassy -- they'll send us back, I hope, so we can be reunited with my husband and sons." The main thing, she emphasized, was to avoid the brutal Israeli immigration police, who had no compunction about throwing a woman and her daughters into prison to be held for who knows how long, until they decided to deport them to who knows where.
The Martinez family did not rely on government handouts. They worked for their daily bread, and they paid their bills. They were active members of the congregation, and they wanted to convert to Judaism but were repeatedly denied the privilege, because they did not qualify for Israeli citizenship. The did not qualify for Israeli citizenship, because they were not Jewish.
They were deeply committed to the existence of Israel as a Jewish State, and they were strong supporters of the Israeli government. They were active members of their community and their congregation. They were socially responsible, and they were respected by their neighbors and friends.
What then was their crime, that the government of Israel chose to treat them in this manner?
It behooves our Ministry of Interior to take a good hard look at the Martinez case, and its treatment of this family -- because others are watching and learning about the real values of Israel's government officials, as opposed to the platitudes mouthed by politicians who would do better to carry out a serious probe of the activities that take place under their auspices.
When 2,000 illegal Sudanese can become legal residents of Arad by virtue of their ability to run an Egyptian border, one has to question why Israel's immigration police spent so much time and money to pursue and deport the hapless Martinez family as if they were hardened criminals.
Perhaps it was just because American citizens were simply an easier mark.
Yes, so they tried to muffle their voices, and they pulled the video off at least one of the areas of YouTube -- 'We Con the World' was too great a satire for the anti-Semites and the anti-Zionists to handle, a little too popular, and so they responded with the only ammunition they could find; they tried to stifle free speech.
It's an old jihadist game. Only the Islamist extremists get to talk.
But not this time, because at least in the 21st century, entertainment still rules, if nothing else, and there is nothing illegal about good old-fashioned critical satire in the news. 'We Con the World' chose a topic that was fair game, and attacked it in an entertaining way. The Flotilla Choir still reigns supreme on several different sites, among them YouTube, albeit not on the primary site where it once was found. But yes, you can still find it, also here on my own blog (just scroll down a bit, it's the next post down) and also on the WeJew website as well.
Too bad the jihadists weren't as creative. They're still hung up on violence, whacky monotone techno-trash disguised as quasi-nasheed and... um... oh yeah -- lawfare. A former terrorist tells Israel National News, however, that the Jewish State must fight back, at all costs.
If ever there was a satirical truth, folks, this is it. Kudos to the writers and yes, the performers as well... Please RETWEET or RESEND or whatever you have to do, readers, to make sure this gets around.
Above: Turkish military bulletproof vests found on the Mavi Marmara "peace ship" (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today expressed strong support for Israel's Naval commandos in the wake of the violence they encountered on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish vessel that was one of six ships in a flotilla determined to break Israel's embargo on the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza.
"This was no peace flotilla but a violent and planned force. We have film and pictures that underscore what our soldiers faced and the last thing that could possibly be said about that ship is that it was a peace ship," he said.
"Today, I visited the wounded fighters at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and I heard from them waiting for them on the deck of the ship were terrorists armed with cold weapons such as axes, knives, clubs, bars and the like, and it is likely that they also snatched weapons. Our soldiers acted against them with equanimity and heroism. We regret the loss of life – but give full backing to the soldiers and to the IDF regarding this action," he said.
Prime Minister Netanyahu also explained why it is necessary to check ships transporting equipment and people to Gaza. "We know from the experience of Operation Cast Lead, and from before it, that war materiel which enters Gaza is directed against our citizens," he said.
"Gaza is an Iranian-sponsored terrorist state; therefore, we try to prevent the entry of war materiel into Gaza, whether by land, sea or air. True, they smuggle war materiel through tunnels but smuggling via the sea is completely different, quantitatively," Netanyahu explained.
"On the Francop alone, we captured approximately 200 tons of war materiel smuggled from Iran to Hezbollah. Opening a sea route into Gaza would constitute a great danger to the security of our citizens. Therefore, we persist with a naval blockade and check the ships. There is no possibility of maintaining this policy without checking ships' cargoes.
"True, there is international pressure and criticism of this policy but we must understand that it is vital in order to maintain Israel's security and Israel's right to defend itself."
The Israeli government today issued a travel warning to Turkey in response to demonstrations taking place around the Israeli Consultate in Istanbul and the Israeli Embassy in Ankara.
“This delicate state of affairs is liable to deteriorate into violent outbreaks against Israelis in Turkey,” warned the National Security Council Counter-Terrorism Bureau (NSCCTB) in a statement released Monday to the media. “Israelis due to leave for Turkey should — at this stage — refrain from traveling until the situation becomes clear. Israelis currently in Turkey should remain in their places of residence, avoid city centers and sites in which demonstrations are being held, and monitor developments out of concern that the situation could worsen,” the agency warned.
The protests were apparently ignited in response to the confrontation that ensued when a flotilla sponsored by so-called “peace activists” tried to challenge Israel’s sovereignty over Gaza’s coastal waters late Sunday night.
In actuality, radical Muslim extremists were among those behind the attempt, as became obvious when Israeli Navy personnel attempted to redirect the vessels to the Ashdod port, where their "humanitarian aid" would have been off-loaded for legal delivery through the land crossings into Gaza.
The ships refused to stop, and a confrontation ensued, with Israeli soldiers being forced to board the vessels to take control -- a situation the organizers clearly had hoped for in order to provoke a conflict for media consumption. The so-called “peace activists” had stockpiled a cache of weapons, including guns, daggers, clubs and knives. At least one IDF soldiers was shot and critically wounded. A second was stabbed in the stomach.
Turkey provided material support to the organizers of the flotilla, a move that follows its recent tightening of relations with Iran and Syria in an apparent new alliance that builds on the already-firm axis between Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas.
This latest development forms an updated version of that military axis, which could signal a new threat to the Jewish State -- especially in light of the fact that up to this point Israel shared much of its military information and operations as well as other technological information with Turkey, formerly a close ally.
So-called "peace activists" -- actually provocateurs dressed in anarchists' clothing -- have tried once again to challenge Israel's sovereignty over the coastal waters of Gaza, determined by the Oslo Accords decades ago.
It is true that the Palestinian Authority and its supporters have chosen to respect little in connection with that agreement, other than the clauses which the Arab world finds favorable. However, that does not mean the document is any the less legal for all of that, much as some in Israel would also have preferred it never to have been signed.
Since it remains so, it must be respected by all -- including the international bodies that allowed their representatives to act as proxies in challenging Israel's sovereignty.
It does raise the question, however, of whether a burgeoning new axis is forming on the horizon to supplement that of the already cemented alliance between Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Hizbullah and Hamas. Do we now see the emergence of a new one between Turkey, Brazil, Venezuela and Iran as well? And are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Greece and Cyprus contemplating joining them?
When then should we expect the advent of World War III, and with whom will Britain and France ally themselves this time? Germany, at present friendly to Israel, nonetheless saw its largest bank divest itself from Elbit Systems at the first hint of criticism from a couple of "humanitarian" nongovernmental organizations, one of which is associated with the Catholic Church. Elbit, an Israeli defense firm, provides electronics systems and technical support in the construction of the security barrier in Judea and Samaria -- a project that has saved countless civilian lives (yes, Catholic ones too!), but which the "peace activists" oppose because it upsets the Palestinian Authority.
Good thing the IDF continues to train -- and Home Front Command continues to drill the civilian population each year...
(Arad) - It’s only a matter of time until a major earthquake hits the Jewish State, according to the director of Israel’s national earthquake readiness committee.
Earthquakes happen all the time in Israel – a mild one struck the north this past Saturday night, registering 3.6 on the Richter scale, according to the Seismological Institute. The temblor occurred just north of Lake Kinneret, near the Arik Bridge at about 8:45 p.m. It lasted about 10 seconds.
Another mild quake hit the north about 10 days ago, registering 3.4 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was located in the Mediterranean Sea off the southern coast of Lebanon. That quake was preceded a day earlier by a stronger, level-6 temblor that struck Turkey, north of Lebanon.
Dozens of people were killed.
‘We Are Now in the Area of Statistical Error’ Dr. Avi Shapira, head of the National Infrastructures Ministry committee, said that every location in Israel has experienced an earthquake at least once in the past 2,000 years – and that where there has been at least one earthquake, there is sure to be another.
But now the country is running into overtime, he pointed out in a statement he released to the media on Sunday.
“Israel experiences a large earthquake on an average of every 80 years; since the last one occurred in 1927, we are now in the area of statistical error. Of course, it could be a few decades before a quake occurs, but it could also happen at any given moment. We also know that the more time passes, the greater the intensity of the earthquake will be,” he said.
‘Greed and Stupidity’ Shapira slammed the short-sightedness of local authorities who are unwilling to grant building zones to contractors in exchange for reinforcing existing structures against future earthquakes. He also had strong words for citizens who supported their local governments' unwillingness to grand the additional building zones to the contractors in a special deal involving a regulation called TMA38, which was approved in 2005.
TMA38, the National Planning Guidelines for Seismic Strengthening, determines the steps that contractors are expected to take upon themselves for the reinforcement of existing buildings in return for building zones.
However, Shapira explained, very few local communities had actually taken advantage of the deal. “TMA38 is only worth something in places where land is expensive – but from a survey that we carried out, we found that even in expensive areas in central Israel, of 100,000 buildings that can be reinforced according to TMA38, only a few hundred have actually been dealt with," he said.
“This is because of the greed and stupidity of citizens on the one hand, and the local authorities’ refusal to grant additional building zones for a variety of reasons – some justified and some less,” he added.
Local Authorities Face Conflicting Priorities It is the local authority that becomes the immediate responder in the aftermath of an earthquake, explained Ephraim Karni, head of Israel’s National Emergency Authority. “It is irrelevant whether a local authority is a strong or weak one, a functioning or non-functioning one, prepared or not prepared – it is the local authority that will have to provide an immediate response,” he said.
And yet, that having been said, most local authorities are ill prepared, due in part to the national government’s unwillingness to empower them with the autonomy to make the necessary preparations. Sharon Azriel, acting director-general of the Union of Local Authorities said that financial cutbacks and budget limits have pushed aside the issue of emergency preparedness in most local authorities.
“A mayor who has funds and has to choose between building a new promenade or park, and establishing an underground command center that no citizen can see or is aware of – finds himself in a serious dilemma,” Azriel said.
Regardless, Israel is living on borrowed time, according to most experts in the field, and will soon have to face the issue of how to prepare its infrastructure, its buildings and its population to behave in the event of an earthquake -- with or without the financial wherewithal to do so.
Terrorists failed in their attempt Thursday afternoon to assassinate Israel's ambassador to Jordan, Danny Nevo when they targeted an Israeli diplomatic convoy heading for the Allenby crossing. The ambassador was not in his car at the time of the bombing, nor was anyone else injured in the attack, according to a statement by Israel's foreign ministry.
IDF Army Radio reported the convoy was approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the crossing when the roadside bombs were detonated, both by remote control, as the cars passed. The timing was apparently just slightly off, enough to have missed seriously damaging the vehicles.
The convoy headed for a Jordanian army base following the attack. Authorities blocked roads and threw a dragnet around the area while soldiers conducted an intensive search for the perpetrators. Firefighters, police officers and a number of ambulances were also sent to the scene.
Both Jordanian and Israeli security personnel are investigating the incident. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Jordan is home to a large Palestinian population, most of whom vehemently oppose the Hashemite Kingdom's peaceful relations with its Jewish neighbor, despite the formal peace accord signed between the two countries in 1994. Egypt, the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel, preceded Jordan by venturing into the diplomatic arena some 20 years earlier.
According to an Israeli official who spoke with the AFP news agency in Amman by telephone, "The embassy convoy left Amman and was heading for the Hussein Bridge when the blast occurred." The diplomat was referring to the Allenby Bridge crossing that links Israel with Jordan, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Amman.
Jordanian officials issued a similar statement to Fox TV News. "An explosive device exploded on the side of the road leading to the Jordan Valley," said Jordanian Information Minister Nabil Sharif. "This happened as some civilian vehicles were passing by, including two Israeli diplomatic cars. There were no injuries, and authorities have launched an investigation."
It is not uncommon for Israeli personnel to head back across the border for the weekend, which in Jordan begins on Thursday evenings, (Friday is the Islamic Sabbath day), with the work week resuming on Sunday morning. The schedule is somewhat similar to that in Israel, where the weekend starts Friday afternoon -- the Jewish Sabbath begins Friday evening and ends Saturday after sunset. Israel's work week also resumes on Sunday.